The UK is in breach the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child as a result of cuts to support for poor families, the Children’s Commissioner has claimed.
In a new report, she criticises the cuts ahead of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Autumn Statement.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in November 1989 and has since been signed and ratified by 194 countries.
The Commissioner’s report found that the government cuts have led to the UK infringing upon Articles 6, 18, 23, 24, 26, 27 and 31 of the Convention. These Articles guarantee children the right to life, development, health, social security and leisure.
Researchers collected data on the experiences of people in three categories: children and young people under 16 years old, young people aged 16 to 20, and parents.
There is “an urgent need to reconsider some of the budgetary proposals which leave families struggling to be able to afford to buy essential items”, the report concludes.
In an interview with The Independent, current Children’s Commissioner for England Dr Maggie Atkinson said the government’s attempts to reduce the deficit were hitting children from poor, working families the hardest.
She said it was “patently unfair” that “it is the poorest in society who have least to fall back on that are paying the greatest price”. She added that it was “patently against the rights of the child”.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will examine the report in 2016 as part of an evaluation of the UK’s performance on children’s rights issues. Dr Atkinson said the UK would face “very, very damning” criticism from the UN if the government does not make changes.
The Children’s Commissioner for England promotes the rights and needs of children in discussions of public policy. To read the full report, click here.
In February 2015, Dr Atkinson will step down as Children’s Commissioner. Anne Longfield OBE has been announced as her successor.